Lainey Wilson has been saying what she's thinking for her entire life, and now, she's sharing those thoughts with the world. After a pandemic-related delay, Wilson officially released her debut album, Sayin' What I'm Thinkin', with Broken Bow Records in February, introducing listeners to her personal brand of bell-bottom country.
"The best way for me to describe what bell-bottom country is, is country with a flair," Wilson told PopCulture.com. "I mean, I'm a sucker for everything throwback, whether that's clothes, music, whatever it is. I feel like things that are a little older or vintage or throwback come with a good story and I'm a sucker for a good story."
Wilson's love of vintage is evident on Sayin' What I'm Thinkin', which blends classic country sounds with a modern edge for a final product that's both familiar and fresh. The Louisiana native co-wrote all 12 songs on the album, which was produced by Nashville veteran Jay Joyce, and used her lifelong love of storytelling to paint vivid pictures of living in a place where everybody knows everybody ("Small Town, Girl"), chemistry that's impossible to ignore ("Dirty Looks") and being too hungover to go to church ("Sunday Best").
"I really believe my love for storytelling came from being from a town of 300 people and there not being a whole lot to do," Wilson explained, "and sitting around the kitchen table and hearing the same old stories a hundred times, but they get better every single time you hear them."
The album opens with the swagger-filled "Neon Diamonds," which Wilson named as the song that was the most fun for her to write. "It's one of those songs where you don't take yourself too seriously," she said. "You're just doing your thing, unapologetically you and living in the moment, being present. And of course that's what the song is about, but that's kind of how I felt when I was writing it too."
That unapologetic attitude has carried Wilson through her time in Nashville, which been an upward trajectory thanks to her determination and perseverance. "I feel like I'm proud of myself a little more every day," she said, adding that it's "sometimes hard to be yourself."
"When I first moved to town, you look around and you see all the things that are working and you're not. So you're like, 'Wow, should I be doing something different?'" she reflected. "I had those thoughts cross my mind, but I will tell you I've tried to just keep my head down, keep my blinders on and have been bound and determined to not be anything but myself, because at the end of the day, it'd take a lot more energy and effort to pretend I'm something that I'm not." You can listen to Sayin' What I'm Thinkin' here.